Mandy and Chris Woodward's wedding ceremony at Windrush Gardens at the Burden Museum and Gardens. Photo by TahJah Harmony.

Ask the wedding expert: Kate Cook talks venues

Location, location, location. We might not be talking about real estate, but the question of “where” is still one of the most essential in the wedding planning process. The venue plays a large part in pulling together the look of the wedding, and it’s likely what the guests will remember most–in addition to your wedding dress, of course.

Kate Cook. Photo courtesy KBCook Weddings.

Kate Cook of KBCook Weddings says narrowing down venue options should be on the top of your to-do list as soon as you get engaged. Since most locations can only accommodate one party per night, venues book up fast, and if you have your heart set on one specific place, availabilities might determine the time of year you decide to tie the knot.

“The availability of your top choices will play a huge part in determining your wedding date,” explains Cook. “Once you get the ring, the first conversation your planning team needs to have is about the time of year you would like to get married and the venues that appeal to you.”

Before looking through venues, Cook recommends coming up with a tentative guest count goal, as well as determining budget and style direction. Since, unlike the cake and bouquets, the venue will be visible in most every photo, it’s crucial to pick a location that not only looks beautiful but enhances the aesthetic, whether it be rustic or elegant.

“You need to be sure that a space can accommodate your floor plan ideas,” Cook says, also noting that brides should consider not only if a space will be too small, but also if it will be too large. “Do you want to be able to seat your entire guest count? What size stage does your band require? Would you like for everything to be in one large space? Before you sign a contract, think about what you want the space to be able to do and how many people you would like to have in it.”

Cook says one important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just about the cost of renting the space, it’s also about how much work will need to go into the venue to transform it into the vision you have, as well as the rules and restrictions of certain locations.

“Will you need to bring in rentals? Is there an in-house catering minimum?” asks Cook. “Be sure to consider all the venue-related costs and make sure that they will work with your budget.”

If you have never been to a space, it’s a good idea to visit and get a feel for what it could look like on your big day. And if you aren’t good at visualizing, enlist the help of a planner or just take to Pinterest. Do your homework and everything will come together.

To learn more about Cook and KBCook Weddings, visit or check out these weddings from inRegister’s 2018 Weddings issue: Annie & Jack, Lauren & Jonathan, Maia & Michael, Ashton & Andrew, Mandy & Chris.